The HeadStarter Network is a nonprofit organization created to provide a nimble, interdisciplinary, and forward-looking engine for driving innovation in early childhood development and education. We constantly seek to apply best practices and innovations from technology, business, and academia to shape new models of early childhood education.

The HeadStarter Network is being built to facilitate collaborations, experiments, research, products, services, and ventures between Network members.  Network members include: 

  • Early childhood development and education practitioners

  • Corporate partners

  • Technology partners

  • Academia

  • Venture philanthropy

  • Foundations

The HeadStarter Network is a community for anybody curious and poised to explore and impact the future of early learning.



HeadStarter Network Board

  • Damon Carson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Children, Youth, and Family Services, Neighborhood House Association

  • Youlanda Upkins, Vice President of Early Learning, YMCA Metro Atlanta

  • Yasmina Vinci, Executive Director, National Head Start Association

  • Keith Williams, Senior Director of Compliance , YMCA Metro Atlanta

HeadStarter Network Councils

The Councils are adjunct to the Board and their mandate is to provide counsel, increase awareness, and help steward HeadStarter Network projects.

Contact us for more info on the councils.


Business Council

Lee Carter: HSN Communications Fellow

President, maslansky + partners

A member of the executive leadership team, Lee oversees a diverse range of language strategy work for Fortune 500 companies and non-profits in the U.S. and abroad.  To do this, Lee has conducted, overseen, and analyzed countless instant response sessions, traditional focus groups, brainstorming and strategy sessions. and surveys in more than 15 countries.  She has worked with clients in a wide range of industries including financial services, energy, automotive, sustainability, hospitality services, food and beverage, technology, and consumer products.  And, she has worked extensively in public affairs, public policy, and issue advocacy.

Before joining maslansky + partners, Lee spent more than ten years in marketing and strategic communications. And, like many of her colleagues at m+p got her start in politics advocating for teaching hospitals, graduate medical education, the use of bicycle helmets, and healthcare for those who couldn’t afford it. 

Carol Cone: HSN Social Impact Fellow


Carol is internationally recognized for her work in Purpose and CSR. Carol Cone ON PURPOSE is the return to her entrepreneurial roots and life’s passion: to educate, inspire and accelerate purpose programs and impacts for organizations, nonprofits and individuals around the globe.

For over 25 years, she’s embraced a steadfast commitment to building lasting partnerships between companies, brands and social issues for deep business and societal impact. She adamantly feels that today, companies and brands must stand for something beyond the bottom line. When she began her work, companies and brands questioned “if” they should engage with social issues.  In today’s totally transparent, social world, it is now about “how” brands and companies express their values and character through authentic engagement with society.

She is also a recognized thought leader in Purpose, having conducted dozens of research studies with business executives, citizens, employees and nonprofits to gain critical insights to inspire organizations to engage with society as wise business strategy.  She is a sought-after speaker and media expert, sharing her insights on purpose branding, corporate citizenship, sustainability and CSR.

Dean Kakridas: HSN Experience Design Fellow

Head of Business Development and Partners, Cogniance 

Dean thinks business and speaks design. He lives and works at the intersection of technology, design, and brand. He seeks big challenges with high-performing teams to create great business outcomes through designing great physical and digital user experiences that improve the lives of people. He’s spent his entire 20+year career in the technology space as an engineer, business development leader, and innovator spanning computing, Internet, and mobile/ digital sectors. Dean holds a BS Degree in Industrial Engineering and Information Systems from Northeastern University. 

Throughout his professional career, Dean has contributed to the growth of cutting edge companies such as Sun Microsystems (workstations), NEC Technologies (PC’s), Kendall Square Research (supercomputers), Microtouch (touchscreen technology), Opera Software (web browser), Macromedia (flash-lite for mobile), and frog, Ziba Design, and Cogniance (design & innovation services).

In addition, Dean has founded or been a key early stage contributor or CxO on the startup teams of Silent Systems (sold to 3M), Outbox, Umbel, Reaction Inc. (CCO), nineten (founder), Agency Spotter, and International Accelerator (MD). 

Doreen Lorenzo: HSN Creative Design Fellow

Executive Director, Center for Integrated Design, UT Austin

Doreen Lorenzo is a successful leader of global creative firms who advised Fortune 100 companies on design and innovation issues for decades. In September of 2017 she was appointed Assistant Dean in the new school of Design and Creative Technologies at the University of Texas, Austin. She was previously the Director of the Center for Integrated Design at UT. She is a co-founder of mobile video insights firm Vidlet, as well as a board member and advisor of several other startups, and a columnist for Fast Company Co.Design and Medium. A recognized thought leader on business and design issues, she speaks publicly about her signature leadership style and the power of empathy to drive business results. A Manhattan native, she maintains that everything in life connects back to a Ramones song.

Doreen is an ardent believer in the advantages of “soft skills” like empathy and humor in business. She speaks at industry conferences, at private events, and to the media about her experience using these often overlooked skills to understand and motivate creative people. A driven and successful woman in a male-dominated industry, Doreen also speaks about women in leadership and coaches aspiring women leaders to help them find their own paths to success.

Joe Waters

Co-Founder & CEO, Capita

Joe Waters is the Co-Founder and CEO of Capita, an ideas lab working to ensure that all families flourish in the 21st century and beyond. He earned an MDiv from Duke University and a BA in history from Furman University.

Tech Council

Caterina Rindi: HSN Blockchain Fellow

International Blockchain and social impact consultant

Caterina Rindi comes from a background in education and non-profits; through her efforts developing more scalable opportunities and tapping existing resources via peer-to-peer technologies, she became involved in the bitcoin and blockchain ecosystem in 2013.

Today, Caterina lends her expertise to fintech startups as well as other clients in industries ranging from P2P collaborative economies, consumer products, governance, and healthcare, and is helping organizations think about tapping the advantages of decentralized, transparent, secure databases and self-executing contracts.

She is also addressing the responsibility of our wealthiest citizens to care for the environment and their communities, and use their social impact positively.
Caterina is an international consultant and multilingual speaker, traveling frequently between Europe and the United States.

Rachel Sibley: HSN VR/AR Fellow

VP Product Marketing Leap Motion

Rachel believes technology can make humans not only more powerful, but also more humane—and that both are required to create true value.

As VP of Product Marketing for Leap Motion, the company that allows people to interact in the digital world with their bare hands, she leads go-to-market efforts to bring embodiment and physical interaction to augmented and virtual reality. Before that, she scaled the story of IBM Studios from its mothership in Austin, Texas to 29 design studios worldwide, creating a more design-centric ethos at one of the world’s oldest and largest technology companies.

Jennifer Sukis: HSN AI Fellow

Creative Director, IMB Watson

With a background in Swiss design and typography, Jennifer's journey as a designer has led her from branding to posters, apps to AI. Today she works with IBM Watson to provide creative direction across their portfolio of cognitive enabling products. This new technology gives us the ability to look across vast scopes of data to discover patterns, connections and insights never before possible. Designing tools that might one day point this lens towards history, cultures, archives of knowledge and inklings of ideas is what she hopes will be a giant step forward in more deeply understanding the universe, each other and ourselves.

Education Council

Chaka Booker

Managing Director, The Broad Center

Chaka Booker is a managing director for The Broad Center, a national organization founded by philanthropist Eli Broad. Focused on leadership development, the center annually partners with 40+ organizations and trains 80+ leaders. As a senior leader with the organization, Chaka has more than a decade of experience recruiting, assessing and developing leaders. He is a Pahara-Aspen Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Chaka has written for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Success magazine and is a Forbes monthly contributor on leadership and entrepreneurship. He earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

Rachel Robertson

Vice President of Education & Development, Bright Horizons Family Solutions

Rachel Robertson has been in the education field for over twenty years. She holds a B.S. in Family Social Science and an M.A. in Human Development with an emphasis in learning across the lifespan.  She is currently the Vice President of Education and Development for Bright Horizons Family Solutions. In her role, with an Education & Development department of over 40 members, she supervises the education and curriculum programs for 700 early care and education centers and the professional development for the over 18,000 educators and learning leaders.  She is also an author of numerous articles and books including a deployment series for military families (Elva Resa); Healthy Children, Healthy Lives (Redleaf Press); and children’s books (Redleaf Lane).

She has been identified by Early Childhood Exchange as a leader in the field and she is a member of the Exchange Research to Practice committee.  The department has won numerous training awards under Rachel’s supervision, including recognition as a Top 125 Training by Training magazine organization in 2016 and 2017.